Father Longenecker writes Lenten book

GREENVILLE—An Upstate priest has written a funny and engaging book for Catholics, which is designed to be read during Lent.

Father Dwight Longenecker’s “The Gargoyle Code” is a short story told by way of correspondence between a master devil and a trainee on how to tempt a young Catholic.

Each chapter in the book is broken down by the weeks of Lent, starting with Shrove Tuesday and concluding on Easter.

Father Longenecker, administrator of Our Lady of the Rosary Church and chaplain at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, spoke at Belmont Abbey College recently for a retreat and daylong program on Lent.

In an interview with The Miscellany, Father Longenecker said he wrote “The Gargoyle Code” using C.S. Lewis’ classic “The Screwtape Letters” as his inspiration.

Longenecker uses contemporary temptations — television, the Internet, 24/7 sports channels — in his book, and tells his tale in a satirical and at times, comical, fashion.

“I enjoyed writing the book because it’s the first book in which there’s a plotline,” Father Longenecker said.

It was important to the author to establish a Catholic context that includes demonic ridicule of many Catholic traditions and the targeting of a pair of Catholics by the demons.

“I deliberately depict two extreme Catholics, one who is an ultra-traditionalist and the other who is what you could call a lukewarm Catholic, and the battles between them,” he said.

Father Longenecker said he used a “broad brush” in writing the book to reach out to all Catholics during this Lenten season of self-examination.

“The ultra-traditional Catholic has problems just as the lukewarm Catholic does, but the true Catholic way is with balance,” he said.

Father Longenecker has written several books on Catholic apologetics and spirituality, and writes regularly for several Catholic publications and websites. He has also been a guest on EWTN and on Catholic radio stations.